Millions of people in England and Wales have been warned to prepare for heavy rain and hurricane-force winds on Sunday night and Monday.

Gusts of up to 80 mph (120 kph) are predicted in the South West, moving north and eastwards overnight.

There are fears about falling trees, buildings being damaged, flooding and disruption to power supplies and travel.

The Met Office said 20-40mm (0.80-1.6 ins) of rain might fall within six to nine hours in the wettest areas.

It said the predicted storm – named St Jude after the patron saint of depression and lost causes, whose feast day is Monday – was not one “you would see every year”.

A Met Office amber alert for high winds in southern Wales, southern England, much of the Midlands, the East, and London and the South East is in place.

A yellow alert warning of heavy rain that could lead to surface water flooding and disruption is in place for all areas, apart from London and the South East and eastern England.

Michael Fish told the BBC technology had made earlier forecasting much easier

An amber alert, advising people to “be prepared” for potentially hazardous conditions, is one level up from this.

The Environment Agency has warned of the possibility of surface water flooding on Monday but currently assesses it as a “low risk”.

A spokesman said teams were working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts.

BBC Weather presenter Nick Miller said the storm is in a “developing and deepening” area of low pressure in the Atlantic which developed off the east coast of the US.

He said “there are still some uncertainties” about just how strong the winds will be, but a heavy band of rain across England and Wales would result in standing water and spray during rush hour on Monday.

The worst of the storm will have moved into the North Sea by Monday lunchtime, he added.

Northern Ireland and Scotland will be spared the worst of the weather.

In other developments:

The Met Office is predicting gusts in some areas could be similar in strength to storms in March 2008, January 2007, October 2000 and January 1990.

Wind speeds of 115 mph were recorded during the so-called Great Storm of October 1987.

Forecaster Michael Fish, who famously reassured viewers that there was not “a hurricane” on the way in 1987, predicted that the weather over the coming days would not rival the Great Storm.

He told the BBC News Channel: “Present thoughts are there are three storms it’s comparable to – March 2008, January 2007 and October 2000.”

Emmetts Garden Millions of trees fell during the infamous storm in October 1987

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